A new Australian recycling program by TerraCycle is encouraging schools, offices and communities to collect used pens, markers and other writing instruments; diverting them from landfill and transforming them into something entirely new.
Each year in Australia, over 140 million pens are sold, contributing approximately 700 tonnes of plastic waste to landfill sites across the nation.
In a bid to help combat this, global recycling business TerraCycle has teamed up with stationary company BIC to launch the Writing Instruments Recycling Program. Through this initiative, all brands of used pens, mechanical pencils, markers, highlighters, correction fluid and correction tape will become 100 per cent recyclable.
Through its European programs, TerraCycle and BIC have already diverted 40 million pens from landfills across Europe to date. With the program now launched in Australia, the businesses are hoping to see great results here too.
For Australians wanting to take part in the program, simply visit the TerraCycle website to sign up, then start collecting used writing instruments in any available cardboard box. Once the box is full, download a free shipping label from your TerraCycle account and drop the box off at Australia Post or at a participating Officeworks store for recycling.
TerraCycle will then sort, shred and melt the items down into plastic pellets, which will be used in the manufacture of new products such as garden beds, park benches and playgrounds. For every kilogram of writing instruments sent to TerraCycle, collectors can earn $1 towards their school or a charity of their choice. Globally, over $45 million has been raised for schools and charities through TerraCycle’s free programs.
“At BIC our commitment to reducing our environmental footprint is ingrained in our values, so we are thrilled to be able to provide Australians with a free solution for recycling writing instruments at the end of their life,” says Mark O’Sullivan, General Manager at BIC Asia-Pacific.
“Our program with TerraCycle also reinforces BIC’s commitment to education. Educating current and future generations about sustainability is an important focus for us, and our TerraCycle partnership not only allows us to do this, but also provides the opportunity to use our recycled materials to give back to local communities in the form of parks and playground equipment.”
General Manager of TerraCycle Australia, Jean Bailliard, adds that TerraCycle is committed to educating Australians on the importance of resource conservation. “With the support of leading brands like BIC, we are able to teach both children and adults the value of recycling products they use every day at school or at work, that would otherwise end up in landfill,” she says.
Since being launched, the program has received a great deal of positive feedback. Sisters Holly and Charli Garrity from Hilder Road State School in Queensland were keen to show their support for the program.
“We want to do everything we can to protect our planet and all the amazing animals in it for generations to come. Inspired by our idols Steve and Bindi Irwin, we joined the Visionary Wildlife Warriors program in order to raise awareness of Australia’s endangered animals. Through this, we started looking into ways we can help keep more of our waste out of landfill and found out about TerraCycle,” they explain.
“Considering the amount of pens and markers we use in our school and across Australia, we think this new program is perfect for us to get involved in. We hope this recycling program will have a huge impact across Australia and reduce the amount of plastic entering our environment. We have 500 students in our school and would use about 20 pens each per year. That means, as a single school, we could recycle 10,000 pens alone.”
School teacher at Chatswood Hills State School in Queensland, Tina Cranley, was searching for a solution to the school’s used writing instruments for years.
“I can only imagine the number of pens, highlighters and whiteboard markers that are thrown away each day,” she says. “If these items could be recycled and made into other useable items, not only will this reduce landfill, but it will mean less plastic is needed to be produced. We are very passionate about our recycling here at Chatswood Hills and this initiative will add value to our current program and help us to recycle more materials that we have no option but to throw away.”
Writing Instruments Recycling Program